Sweet potatoes, or sweet potatoes, are becoming more and more popular.
No wonder, they are loaded with nutrients and vitamins that the human body clearly needs.
You certainly know the orange varieties, but what about the white and purple ones?
How to prepare sweet potatoes? Simple recipes, tips and interesting facts – all in one article!
What are sweet potatoes?
Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are considered a root vegetable, similar to carrots or beets. Sweet potatoes, or sweet potatoes, are the edible tuberous roots of a plant called sweet potato ( Ipomoea batatas ). It originally comes from Central and South America, Europeans did not get to know them for the first time until 1492 thanks to Christopher Columbus.
Sweet potatoes are often mistakenly called yams or yams. However, yam is the common name for the edible tubers of plants in the genus Dioscorea , which are native to Africa and are not botanically related to sweet potatoes.
Cultivation of sweet potatoes or sweet potatoes
Currently, sweet potatoes are grown mainly in America and Asia, specifically China is the largest exporter of this crop. Sweet potatoes are a tropical vegetable, in Europe their cultivation is very demanding and therefore expensive. They normally require up to 110 days with temperatures above 30°C, including warm nights when the temperature must not drop below 20°C.
Farmers plant seedlings in early spring. Small plants are transplanted in the summer and sweet potatoes are harvested by hand in the fall. The average yield of sweet potatoes per hectare is approximately 15 tons, which is much lower than the yield of classic potatoes in Europe – 44 tons per hectare.
Sweet potatoes and health
Although sweet and regular potatoes grow very similarly, i.e. underground like tubers, they are very different in their nutrient content. Sweet potatoes, especially orange-fleshed cultivars, have incredible amounts of beta-carotene. For that reason, their cultivation is recommended, for example, in Africa, where the lack of vitamin A in the population’s diet is a major problem. This deficiency causes serious health problems in developing countries, mainly blindness called xerophthalmia, i.e. severe visual impairment.
| Sweet potatoes|
100 g 1
100 g 2
100 g 3
100 g 4
100 g 5
100 g 6
100 g 7
|Fiber||3 g||2.4 g||0.5 g||2.8 g||2.3 g||2 g||3.3 g|
|Calcium||30 mg||9 mg||21 mg||33 mg||43 mg||13 mg||138 mg|
|Potassium||337 mg||407 mg||340 mg||320 mg||305 mg||259 mg||554 mg|
|Vitamin C||2.4 mg||9.1 mg||9 mg||5.9 mg||25 mg||10 mg||133 mg|
|Choline||12.3 mg||11 mg||8.2 mg||8.8 mg||14.1 mg||2.8 mg||12.8 mg|
|Beta-carotene||8,510 μg||5 μg||3100 μg||8,280 μg||1 μg||1090 μg||5050 μg|
|Vitamin E||0.26 mg||0.01 mg||1.06 mg||0.66 mg||0.3 mg||0.89 mg||0.75 mg|
Sweet potatoes are even richer in beta-carotene than carrots. Beta-carotene is a provitamin, which the body then converts into active vitamin A. One single sweet potato baked in its skin provides 156% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A 8 .
Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant that reduces the risk of some types of cancer, including lung and prostate cancer 9 . Sweet potato varieties with purple flesh also contain anthocyanins, which also slow down the growth of cancer cells. Purple sweet potatoes have been shown to be very effective in suppressing, for example, bladder, colon, stomach and even breast cancer 10 .
What do sweet potatoes taste like?
Sweet potatoes have a similar starchy structure to regular potatoes, they are soft and tender after cooking, and a crispy crust forms on the outside after roasting. However, sweet potatoes, as the name itself suggests, are not salty, but sweet.
How to eat sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are eaten both raw and boiled, baked, stewed or, for example, candied in sugar. Their peel is edible and nutritious, so it does not need to be removed with a peeler. Sweet potatoes provide the body with a large amount of carbohydrates, without fat, so they are suitable for athletes and vegetarians as a source of healthy energy. The healthiest ones are those with the skin, which contains the most nutrients, fiber and antioxidants.
How long do sweet potatoes cook?
Cooking sweet potatoes increases the content of beneficial beta-carotene, which is also better absorbed by the body than when raw. Cooking in a pot under the lid for 20 minutes preserves up to 95% of all nutrients in sweet potatoes.
| Raw sweet potatoes|
100 g 1
| Sweet potatoes boiled for 20 min.|
with the peel
100 g 11
| Sweet potatoes boiled for 20 min.|
100 g 12
|Water||77.3 g||75.8 g||80.1 g|
|Energy value||86 kcal||90 calories||76 kcal|
|Proteins||1.57 g||2.01 g||1.37 g|
|Carbohydrates||20.1 g||20.7 g||17.7 g|
|Fiber||3 g||3.3 g||2.5 g|
|Sugars||4.18 g||6.48 g||5.74 g|
|Starches||12.6 g||7.05 g||5.22 g|
|Beta-carotene||8,510 μg||11,500 μg||9,440 μg|
Baked sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes baked in the oven are very similar to the so-called “American” potatoes. Most often, they are prepared whole, with the skin and pierced with a fork in several places, in the oven at 220 °C for about 50 minutes (until the skin swells enough on them).
How to Prepare Sweet Potatoes – The Big Roundup
|Baked at 200-220 °C||Cooked over low heat||Grilled on a hot grill|
| 50 minutes|
whole sweet potatoes
| 40 minutes|
whole sweet potatoes
| 35 minutes|
whole sweet potatoes
| 30 minutes|
sweet potatoes cut in half
| 20 minutes|
diced sweet potatoes
| 12 minutes|
sweet potatoes cut into slices
(6 min. on each side)
|uncovered||covered with a lid||covered by the grill lid|
Recipe for sweet potato fries (fried and baked in the oven)
“Sweet” potato chips are a very popular dish in the United States, which is why they are also commonly available in fast food chains. However, you can also prepare crispy sweet potato fries at home, both fried and baked in the oven.
- 4 sweet potatoes
- 1 cup cornstarch
- sunflower oil / olive oil
- salt pepper
- Peel and wash the sweet potatoes, then cut them into strips/fries.
- Rinse these fries at least twice in cold water.
- In a deep bowl, mix cornstarch with salt and pepper.
- Coat the fries, one at a time, in this starch mixture.
- In case of frying, heat sunflower oil in a pot. If baking, preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Fry the French fries in a pot in several batches, always completely immersed in oil for approx. 7 minutes. (to gold). Bake all the sweet potato fries in the oven at once (if the size of the tray allows), drizzled with olive oil and spread in a single layer on baking paper, for about 25 minutes (also until golden).
- Then season the fried and toasted fries with salt, pepper or chopped herbs. Serve still hot and crispy.
Tips for recipes or what else to cook with sweet potatoes
- Raw sweet potatoes are a great ingredient for healthy, breakfast ordetox smoothies . They are also popularly served to children as snacks instead of fruit. Immediately after cutting, it is recommended to soak the sweet potato pieces in cold water for 10 minutes to preserve their rich color.
- Sweet potato soup has become a very popular dish in recent years. Get inspired by the best sweet potato soup recipes and try, for example, a version with coconut milk, cheddar or cauliflower.
- Sweet potatoes are naturally a very suitable accompaniment to meat, either in pieces baked or boiled, or in the form of sweet potato puree or mash. We also recommend trying the wonderful recipe for autumn roast chicken , which includes sweet potatoes.
- Due to their sweet taste, they are of course also part of sweet dishes such as desserts, cakes, jams or compotes. Traditional American food is candied sweet potatoes mixed with sugar, marshmallows, maple syrup, orange juice, pecans or dates.
Varieties of sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes have been bred into several cultivars with different flesh and skin colors. Thanks to this, there are not only orange, but also white and purple sweet potatoes. Some varieties are even recognized as state vegetables, such as in North Carolina and Alabama.
It is the most commonly cultivated variety, therefore also commonly sold in stores. Beauregard sweet potatoes have orange-yellow flesh and dark red skin. It is one of the juiciest varieties, which is why it is especially suitable for making jams, or as an ingredient for desserts, cookies or baked goods.
Compared to Beauregard, this variety has a more orange skin, as well as the flesh, which is really deep and dark orange. Jewel sweet potatoes are versatile, cooking, baking and grilling well.
Sweet potatoes of this variety have dark red to brown skin and bright orange flesh. They are full of water and therefore even juicier than the Beauregard variety. The Garnet variety is commonly used in sweet and savory pies, but also to make porridge, purees and soups. It is popular mainly because it does not lose its rich color even after heat treatment.
They are white-fleshed sweet potatoes that can be easily mistaken for regular “savory” potatoes at first glance. Sweet potatoes of this variety are among the first to be grown in America. They are firm, starchy, suitable for baking, cooking and frying (sweet potato chips); they are not prone to overcooking.
Okinawa sweet potatoes are one of the most famous purple varieties. They have light skin and bright purple flesh with irregular light patterns. Due to their specific color and dry texture, they are usually served as a side dish to meat, roasted whole or boiled and lightly mashed with butter.
Japenese White is the complete opposite of the Okinawa variety, i.e. it has a dark purple skin and white, creamy yellow flesh. These sweet potatoes are slightly starchy, creamy, with a specific chestnut flavor. They taste great baked, lightly sautéed or stewed, cut into smaller pieces or slices.
Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are a proprietary variety grown in North Carolina and were only discovered in 2003. They have light brown, firm skin and deep purple flesh. Compared to the orange varieties, Stokes Purple® is a dry variety, i.e. suitable as a substitute for regular “salty” potatoes.
How to store sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are stored in the same way as regular potatoes, i.e. in a cool, dry, dark, well-ventilated place, preferably loosely placed in a crate or basket. Since sweet potatoes are a tropical vegetable, they can be stored at room temperature.
Under suitable storage conditions, sweet potatoes can last up to one month without any damage, after which they soften, shrivel and rot. Heat-treated sweet potatoes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, and frozen in the freezer for up to six months.